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Naked, Drunk and Writing

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  380 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A personable and funny book on how to write about your life in essay and memoir, by Adair Lara, whom Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) calls San Francisco's legendary writer and teacher
Paperback, 236 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Scottwall Associates
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  380 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wordy
The bottom line: Writing a memoir is just like writing a novel, only you don’t have to make anything up.

I subtracted one star for her weird gender bullshit. (I would have subtracted two, but it all takes place on one page and afterwards it's never heard from again.)

She says that men don't like to share their work during the drafting process. She doesn't even say some men. Many people have asked me to read their works-in-progress, and most of them have been men. But she says, "This is ho
A. T. Adlen
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm "finished" reading it, but I don't think I'll ever be finished reading it. That's what I love about instructional non-fiction, so many gems to keep you coming back! I have every page dog-eared practically, especially the ones with the "try this" exercises.

This book has me writing up a storm and I highly recommend it.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Gender issues: "All women are like BLAH BLAH. All men are like BLAH BLAH."

Psychology issues: "don't be a victim; don't ever say you're in therapy; if you have a theraputic insight, write it as coming from a talk with a friend or a sister." Because why? Author bias, apparently, since there's no reason given for this find and replace your therapist advice. Books like Hornbacher's Mania and Wasted, the Prozac Diaries, and Girl, Interrupted are classic memoirs that prove there is an audience for me
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book that I've ever read on how to write - period, whether it is a memoir or a personal essay - it doesn't matter. Adair Lara gets it, and knows how to communicate her wisdom to would-be writers. Well-formatted, easy to read, and inspiring - a must-read for anyone who writes or wants to write!
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lara gives practical writing advice with a sure and witty voice. The book helped me get out of my own way. A fun read from an author who treats her readers as peers.

It only took me so long to read because I like to have a good writing book to dip into now and again, and I didn't want this one to end.
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the best writing coaching books that I've read. Thorough, concise and often humorous, Adair Lara gives helpful and very usable advice on producing your own memoirs, journals and essays. Full of tips that may seem common-place, but that we somehow miss when it comes to writing: "Having trouble figuring out where to begin? You don't have to start writing at the beginning, that part may come later." Very helpful advice for me as I can let the 'beginning' keep me from ever writing anything.

Antoinette Perez
Probably a great partner to Moore's "Crafting the Personal Essay." Moore's book was more about form and technicality. This book helped more with emotion, tone, and heart. I flew pretty quickly through the sections on memoir, since that isn't on my to-do list, but cover to cover, I still found a lot of good direction for my work.
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Even though I read a lot of these writing tips before, I enjoyed reviewing it again.

I liked the tips about the elements of a successful essay. One tip I had not seen before was outlining the essay which I want to try--I like how the format is fill in the blank.

I also enjoyed the section about what's your angle because that is often the aspect of writing I struggle with the most.

The editing tips are helpful especially the ones about the ending and questions to ask yourself.

The getting publish
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I barely finished this book before I contacted the author for a manuscript consultation. That's how truly helpful and insightful it is! No trite cliches and talking down to you. Sparse and intelligent. Empathetic with a tough-love reality kick. Humorous and approachable without it feeling forced. Highly recommend for ALL writers (fiction or non) because they all deal a little with the exposure/naked/vulnerability fears in some part. One of my favorite writing guides in years. Definitely recommen ...more
Joyce Lefler
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-to-write
This is the best book about "how to write a memoir" in my collection. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know the differences between non-fiction, autobiography, creative non-fiction, and memoir. I continue to refer to it even after my memoir is now published.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly good.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on the craft of writing I've ever read, and I read a lot of them. Highly recommend.
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun and instructive look at writing.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Easy to read, fun, inspirational, and full of contagious ideas. Definitely highly recommend to aspiring writers, even if it’s not a memoir.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not even really sure how I first came across this book- like...why I was even browsing books about writing technique in the first place, but for some reason I decided to grab this, and I'm happy I did.

I used to write a lot. Not exactly sure when/how/why that changed, but I haven't written anything in ages. I'm in a pretty weird season of life where things are changing (or need to change) and I need to figure out how everything is fitting together. Writing seems like a natural thing to do right
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have been writing essays and memoir for decades, but I have never found a book or a teacher that made the process so incredibly clear. It comes at a perfect time for me as I struggle to figure out what to do with almost 800 pages of journals I’m trying to turn into a memoir. Now, thanks to this book, I know how. Lara, a longtime columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of 13 books, as well as a popular teacher and writing coach, has packed this book with information that will help ...more
D. Thrush
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What to do if you’re clothed, sober, and stuck staring at a blank word document… I read this book because I’m editing an autobiography. I write fiction but I still found value for my own writing. This book will help anyone focus on writing a good essay or memoir: how much detail to give, how to write in a compelling way, what will draw in the reader. I always thought reading about writing wasn’t helpful until I read some good books about it. This is one of them, especially if you’re writing a me ...more
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
A great text for beginners in creative nonfiction, though I would prefer a little more about the personal essay, as opposed to the memoir. Easy to understand, not condescending, well-organized and explained, and practical. In my experience, students often sell back creative writing textbooks (the didactic--not novels, memoirs, books of poetry, etc.), but think most students would hold onto this book after the class is over.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helpful, inspiring, and funny, this was by far the best writing help book I've read. Okay, I've read maybe three, so I guess that's not saying much, but let me just say- I feel like writing now and I haven't had that feeling for a few months.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 11- "What Goes in and What Doesn't"- with its handy lists of questions and practical tips.

And by the way, the title is to catch your eye and has nothing to do with the content. Or the reader.
Gena Radcliffe
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Funny, inspiring book about writing personal essays and memoirs. Although some of her advice is easier said than done ("write every day even if you're not in the mood"), overall it offers excellent tips on the process from beginning to getting it published. Very straightforward without any woo woo "embrace the spirit within you" faux artistic mysticism.
Michelle Farinella
A readable how-to text on personal narrative and memoir. Many things you have already heard, but in fresh spunky language and with motivational context. Maybe the kick that your ass has been looking for?
David Kent
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Focused on writing personal essays and memoirs, the book provides both inspiring anecdote and useful information. A bit uneven in the writing but definitely worth the read. An appendix includes many writing prompts and exercises that should be valuable to most writers.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Naked, Drunk and Writing is the first in a lengthy list of books loaded upon my Nook intended to enhance my writing skills. I found a ideas as well as exercises to spark the creative spirit. I felt the author was a little condescending. Perhaps she was naked, drunk and writing.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
clear, very helpful instructions about writing. I was making notes while reading just to make sure I wouldn't forget the tips that resonated most to me.
Highly recommended.
Only comment I have is that I didn't always like the examples. Some pieces were too long and felt as an interruption.
Jennifer Louden
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really useful nuts and bolts book on writing memoir and personal essay. Funny with clear, useful examples from the author's writing life. Pair with The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith and you will be doing great.
Denisen Hartlove
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Cannot say enough about what a great book on writing this is! Funny stories, good writing exercises, and valuable advice make this book a must-have for any writer, whether thoselonging to be published for the first time or reading on the plane while on way to accept Pulitzer!
Candace Savage
Minus the goofy title, this book provides a helpful and encouraging guide to writing and publishing personal essays.
Brian Kennedy
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title and cover art were initially a turn off, but this is a great reference book for essay and memoir writing. Will definitely be keeping this on my bookshelf and revisiting it often.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book, it makes me think she would be a good person to take a workshop from.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Presents the information in a clear yet entertaining way. One of the best essay how-tos I've read.
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“You can’t just come out and say what you have to say. That’s what people do on airplanes, when a man plops down next to you in the aisle seat of your flight to New York, spills peanuts all over the place (back when the cheapskate airlines at least gave you peanuts), and tells you about what his boss did to him the day before. You know how your eyes glaze over when you hear a story like that? That’s because of the way he’s telling his story. You need a good way to tell your story.” 6 likes
“Write it down. Whatever it is, write it down. Chip in into marble. Type it into Microsoft Word. Spell it out in seaweeds on the shore. We are each of us an endangered species, delicate as unicorns.” 2 likes
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